For years, the Baltimore Ravens and Pittsburgh Steelers were the bullies of the division, beating up on the weak sisters in Cleveland and Cincinnati. But in 2009, the Bengals shocked everyone with an outstanding defense and power offense, while the Browns overhauled their entire personnel department in hopes of a long-awaited run to the top. Here's how things went for the AFC North teams in the 2010 draft.
Baltimore Ravens: Long known as one of the best first-round drafters, Ozzie Newsome traded out of the first this year and picked up all kinds of depth for a team already stacked enough to compete for a Super Bowl every year. No surprise that the first two picks had to do with defense. If Texas OLB Sergio Kindle(notes) has a clean bill of health and the microfracture rumors are untrue, the Ravens got a high first-round talent with the 43rd overall pick. Alabama NT Terrence Cody(notes) will line up alongside Haloti Ngata(notes), which should take care of anyone wanting to run against that defense. Oregon TE Ed Dickson(notes) is more of a pass-catching tight end who will help the team's revamped aerial attack, and he could be the heir apparent to Todd Heap(notes). To ensure depth at the position, Baltimore also took Dennis Pitta(notes) from BYU. We're not doing grades here, but this draft could go from A to C depending on Kindle's medical status.
Cincinnati Bengals: The Bengals are known for going after great athletes with various question marks, and this draft was no different. No surprise that they took Oklahoma TE Jermaine Gresham(notes) in the first round; Gresham will be a matchup nightmare similar to Antonio Gates(notes) as long as he's fully past the knee injury that caused him to miss the 2009 season. Second-round end Carlos Dunlap(notes) is a physical freak that brings Julius Peppers(notes) to mind, but the game tape doesn't always match up. The Bengals added two receivers - Texas' Jordan Shipley(notes), who should be very productive in the slot, and Kansas wideout Dezmon Briscoe(notes), who could very well be one of the steals of this draft.
Cleveland Browns: The first draft of the Mike Holmgren/Tom Heckert era addressed needs all over the roster. First-round corner Joe Haden(notes) is the most polished pass defender in this draft class, and second-round safety T.J. Ward(notes) will add some nastiness to the defense if he can overcome an injury history. Two interesting sleepers in this draft: Texas quarterback Colt McCoy(notes), who went 85th overall (a disappointment) but gets to work with Holmgren (a huge benefit) and Nebraska safety Larry Asante(notes), a safety who hits like a very angry linebacker. He'll be a special teams demon from Day One.
Pittsburgh Steelers: After an offseason that has been ... um ... "interesting", the Steelers had a safe and unspectacular draft. Just about everybody expected them to beef up their interior offensive line with Florida center Maurkice Pouncey(notes), and that's exactly what they did with the 18th overall pick. In the second round, Virginia Tech OLB Jason Worilds(notes) provides valuable depth behind James Harrison(notes) and LaMarr Woodley(notes). Sixth-round running back Jonathan Dwyer(notes) is a big man who could provide superior value if he can prove the naysayers wrong about his inflated production in the triple option offense.
- Baltimore Ravens